21 Days in Southeast Asia Itinerary

21 Days in Southeast Asia. A travel guide by Lauren Likes

As we prepare to leave Korea, likely Asia altogether, we decided to take one more beautiful trip through Southeast Asia to soak up all the warmth, good food and culture it has to offer. This trip accomplished multiple goals for us, seeing friends, job fairs and travel, so be aware that our itinerary reflects some of that.

This was one of our medium favorite trips. Rating trips is so very hard because a lot of times what you love about a trip has little to do with where you are, if that makes sense. We spend a lot of this trip relaxing and resting as this was what we needed in this time. So we did little but experienced a lot.

Below is our 1 Second video with lots of little clips from fun, little moments of our trip. I love capturing these videos and being able to tell a real live story without a ton of work.

*More on how I create the 1 Second videos from our trips here. 

When I plan our trips I like to think big picture, details, emergencies and go with the flow…all at once. I use these planners to help walk me through every aspect of dreaming, planning, prepping, packing, documenting and sharing. Grab a set for yourself now! 

Below is our itinerary through Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. As I add more posts they will be linked. Please ask any travel questions you have in the comments!

21 Days in Southeast Asia Travel Guide by Lauren LikesDays 1-5: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
We were here to see a friend and to teach a class for her staff. She works for AIM and it is an incredible organization doing some amazing things for the community of Svay Pak. This was one the most difficult but more memorable parts of our trip. We toured their community and got to see first hand the incredible work they are doing to stop sex trafficking and provide healing, restoration, education and new lives for the women, children and pimps in this neighborhood. While in Phnom Penh we spent time on the river, the palace, the museum, the Killing Fields and shopping in the markets. This city was our least favorite city of our trip as it was incredibly busy and someone tried to rob us and there was not a lot to do past the few tourist stops. If you are planning a trip here, I would suggest about 3 days to do all the above activities.

Day 5: Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Sam Loem
We took a private taxi to Sihouniksville, as all the buses filled up quickly, but it was a great choice. Very cheap and is a personal car, so you are alone and can stop when you need and go exactly where you need to go. We spent the afternoon here, there isn’t much to do in the city but there is a cute boardwalk area with shops, food and the beach. We stayed around the pier and took our ferry to Koh Rong Sam Loem. A word about the ferry, you can book online or in person. I would suggest prebooking but be sure to leave lots of extra time. Also the ferries are completely unreliable so DO NOT have a tight schedule…keep reading. We used this company. 

21 Days in Southeast Asia Travel Guide by Lauren LikesDay 5-8: Koh Rong Sam Loem
Best part of our trip, hands down. This smaller island is not developed at all and only has a line of small bungalows on the beach with tiny restaurants. It is beautiful and had the exact atmosphere we were hoping for: relaxed, good food, nothing to do. You can rent kayaks and do snorkel tours, but the main attraction is the beach and reading. We stayed here and were very happy with our stay, but there are some incredibly cool bungalows depending on your price range on the island. We absolutely suggest staying here and not Koh Rong.

Day 8: Koh Rong Sam Loem to Sihanoukville to Siem Reap
We did not book in country travel tickets before leaving for our trip but decided to figure it out when we got there. Once we realized that it was a 9 hour bus ride to Siem Reap, but opted for a cheap, 1 hour flight. But the aforementioned unreliable ferry didnt run on time and put us on a  ‘party boat’ which literally sat about 50 feet offshort and had a foam party while we watched our airplane take off without us….so we got into a taxi, frantically, and drove around to bus stations until we found an overnight sleeper bus for $17 each and had a pretty decent nights rest and woke up in Siem Reap.

21 Days in Southeast Asia Travel Guide by Lauren LikesDay 9-12: Siem Reap
We honest to goodness loved our time here because we stayed at the most jungalicious villas and we sat at the pool for 2 days. We did the 1 day temple tour and went to a dinner + dance show. We could not recommend our hotel more to you! Pub street or King street was very close and had some great food, a market and lots of street vendors to wander through. The temple tours have many options, but at a few points I really thought ‘all these are starting to look the same’. So if you are short on time or can’t look at about more than 10 temples before you glaze over, the 1 day tour is perfect.

Day 12: Hanoi, Vietnam
We booked an amazing package, here but directly through their website, that included everything from airport pickup and return and everything in between. We flew into Hanoi had the evening and left for our cruise the next morning.

21 Days in Southeast Asia Travel Guide by Lauren LikesDays 13-15: Ha Long Bay
This 3 day, 2 night cruise through Ha Long Bay was one of the highlights of our trip! It was beautiful, fun and delicious. People always say they cannot believe this place is real….because it truly is unreal how beautiful it is. All the activities are arranged and there is plenty of downtime on the boat and so much food. It’s a bay, so it’s not really sailing, you are really just sleeping on a boat that is sitting in water more than sailing…but still, amazing. We went kayaking, went on boat tours, cave tours, learned to make spring rolls, went squid fishing and ate and ate.

Day 16: Hanoi
We were very happy to spend one afternoon and one last full day in Hanoi. I was not feeling well, so we got a late checkout, but still had plenty of time to explore. Our hotel was right beside the lake, so we went to the palace and the puppet show. The puppet show is likely my favorite event from the trip, don’t miss it. We also ate street food, best pho of our life, and got massages at a fancy (but still oh so cheap) spa while we were here. We had other friends spend their break here and they said 1-2 is enough to explore the city, but there are plenty of day trips you can easily arrange from the city if you stay longer.

Day 17-21: Bangkok, Thailand
Oh Bangkok, we meet again. We flew here as the train was a very loooooong ride. This was our second trip here and we stayed in the exact same area as before but we were here for the job fair. I spent most of my time at the pool reading, but we did go to the Chatuckak market. Which was cool but also huge/overwhelming and not what we expected from the markets in Chiang Mai. These were either more touristy junk or very cool, local handmade fair trade type items, but we wandered for ours and never found the more traditional Thai items we were hoping for. You can easily spend a whole day here and eat. As foreigners Bangkok is a great city as everything is very well designed for your ease and there are so many options, as any large city has, but my advice is to keep going and see as much of Thailand’s beautiful countryside as you can. More about our big Thailand trip here. 

Day 21: Seoul! South Korea
We travelled home on this last day and I have learned that direct flights are the best and so is getting home in time to actually have some time left in the day. I know some people want to milk every second out of their travel, but we need time to breath and reset and also sleep.

I have lots of beautiful photos and journals to share with you to come later! If you have any questions please ask in the comments! 

Travel tips: Road Trip Essentials, Top Travel Tops Part 1 and Part 2, Photos to take while travelling, Instagram While Travelling Tips 1 and

State Of The Union 2017

Welcome to 2017! Woohoo! Literally nothing has changed and that is why I love/hate new years. More on that later. For now, I am sharing a Lauren-Likes State Of The Union for 2017. Paul Jarvis started this and then all my favorite creatives followed suit and I thought it was a great idea to share with you a summary of last year, to help me wrap my mind around it and to cast a bit of vision for you and I for 2017.

What Worked Well In 2016

Get Messy is the first and foremost thing that is working well in my online/business life. In 2016 we saw Get Messy grow exponentially and by that I mean it grew 5x it’s original size from January to December. Get Messy has my heart and all my commitment and Caylee and I are determined to see it become the most comprehensive place to go for all your art journaling needs. I am so thankful for the amazing group of women who are a part of this program and would love for everyone to be able to enjoy and experiences it’s benefits.

Travel Like An Artist launched and was successful measured by the fact that more than 2 people signed up! YAY! Way more! YAYYAY! I have been wanting to launch this class (plus a complimentary course) for 2 years now and I finally, finally forced myself to get it out into the world. It truly is my favorite topic to talk about: Travel + Crafting, so I am so proud that I created the course and it is all self hosted on my own new course site, so many more courses can be added. Thanks to the lovely Caylee Grey, the site is beautiful and functional and I could NEVER have done it without her help, encouragement and accountability.

Painting. This is the year that I really truly fell in love with abstract acrylic painting. I feel there are an infinite number of possibilities for these paintings and I love exploring new techniques and new mediums. This has been the most fun and personal creative project I have taken on, since art journaling, and I cannot wait to grow and invest in it more.

How She Creates the podcast launched! Caylee had this fantastic idea to interview creative people just about art and not about business (like most ‘creative’ podcasts out there are) and I jumped on board SO FAST. I love chatting with Caylee and this has been the BEST way to become friends with artists I admire and love so much. It has been such a fun and new learning curve and the feedback has been so encouraging. I think my favorite conversations have been with Yao Chang and Amy Tan, who I never dreamed I would have gotten to talk to and that they would be the NICEST humans EVER.

Going to bed earlier has made all the difference in the world. I’ve always had a problem with staying up late and being late to everything. We have been slowly moving bedtime up and I’ve been listening to my body more and have been much better about finding that sweet spot for sleep. Also, all hail the fitbit for helping me track and goal set for this. I honestly gave up on hitting my step count a long time ago, but you better believe I obsessively check my sleep goal and data.

Travel has been slow, easy and much more balanced this year. When we first started travelling we tried to do all the things, all the time. Now we take it slow, build in time for rest and do what we like most. This year we visited Vietnam (twice), Thailand, Cambodia, America (twice), Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, The Philippines and Turkey. In Korea, we have visited Sokcho, Andong, Wolchulson National Park, Muuido Island and Jeju Island. My favorites were Turkey and Slovenia, which surprised me so much because they were kind of after thought trips, but they were beautiful, delicious and so inspiring. We also were able to make travelling coordinate with friends, like Caylee and friends from back home and took four trips with friends and they were by far our favorite experiences! My family came to visit us in Korea in 2016 and that may have been the highlight of our 3 years living here! It was so incredibly fun to be tourists and we did so many things that we had never done because they are ‘touristy’ things and it was so fun to show our world to my family and I am eternally grateful that they chose to come.

Reading. Its been a good year for books. Again, it’s always a balance, but I am making more time and trying to make reading a nightly habit. I tend to read in spurts where I will be obsessed, then I will get bored and be obsessed with tv shows for a while and Im just leaning into those times where reading is what I crave and being ok when it isn’t. I have also let myself off the hook and allow myself to read what I like! Sometimes I feel like I should be reading business or spiritual books to help me grow and learn, but sometimes I just want to blow through a murder mystery, get lost and feel intrigued! So I have realized that if I need to get back into the reading mindset, a thriller is best! We have also set a pretty good habit of listening to audiobooks together when we travel and this is by far one of my favorite things we do.

Relationships. This year was a good year for friendships. People have been having babies and getting knocked up left and right and has only added so much joy to our relationships. We have taken multiple trips with friends and we started a supper club, inspired by Jen Hatmaker and it has truly enriched our lives and created a solid network for us. This is what makes leaving Korea so hard, oh and the food. Business wise, I could not have a better partner, and friend, in Caylee and I am so lucky to have her expertise and generosity on my side. I cannot wait for her new baby to join our little misfit internet family very soon! Our family has also been so incredibly supportive of us this year as we have been away for 3 years now and are, likely, planning to continue that for the unforeseen future. We are grateful for their willingness to use Facetime and the USPS to stay in touch. Our friends from back home always continue to surprise us as they have worked hard to remember time differences, schedule facetime chats and support us, lovingly, no matter the distance. We have been truly blessed by the relationships we have in our real life and online. I constantly receive mail from online friends and every time I think, ‘How am I so lucky…’.

What Didn’t Work So Well In 2016 

Blogging. Oh jeez. I know that this space has turned into a personal journal and I love/hate this. I want to record my life on my blog and want to share personal things with my readers and friends. But I also know that I want to share art, tips, tutorials, ideas, inspiration and more here. Blogging has been the thing that had to take a backseat to all the other amazing and creative things I did this year but was a constant source of guilt and frustration for me.

Newsletter. Same as blogging, I completely neglected this source of connection with my people! Then when I do want to post something, I feel bad about the crazy amount of time in between and don’t post…so yeah.

Time management + taking on too much. This is something I felt a lot of guilt and stress over the past year, but I have finally come to the conclusion that I am working TWO full time jobs and trying to have a life. The life part took a bit of a backseat and when my husband said ‘maybe next year when you only have one job, we can do stuff again’ it broke my heart a bit. I have had to let go of some things and of perfection and just do the best I could, while putting myself first (ish). I got much better about saying no and being more realistic with my time near the end and this helped immensely.

Spending time just relaxing. Related to the one above, I spent most of my evenings blindly staring at my computer and not being productive or restful because I felt like I ‘needed’ to be working, but was too tired and burnt out to actually use my mind to do work and therefore passed up on a lot of reading, movies, exploring, events, friendships and relaxing that I should have been saying yes to.

Losing all control and eating all the things. I started the school year off with such high hopes to get back in shape, etc, etc. This last for about a month and then by the end of the year I was binge drinking soda and eating candy because my life literally depended on it. So I’m starting out the year with Whole30 to kick sugar to the curb and gain back some control over my snacking, energy levels and mood.

Project Life. Yeesh, I love this project so much…in theory. I almost completed 1 spread this year. I do want to keep this up, but I don’t get excited to work on it anymore, definitely am not in the habit of it and get a little crazy and spend too much time making it ‘look good’ to blog or instagram. So I’m planning to scrap that idea and take a weekend to make a few spreads to summarize last year and may or may not share them. Im trying to take the pressure off of this project and see if my love for it will come back to me… We’ll see.

Church. I very cautiously share this because I know many will not understand or agree, but I feel that the only way to grow and support one anther is through painful transparency at times. This is the first time in almost 20 years that we have not been attending church regularly. Not because of a change in our faith or beliefs or commitment to Christ, but because of where we have found ourselves in our community. There is a lot more that goes into this that is a long convo for another time and place, but we felt that this year the best choice for us was to focus on rest, our own Biblical studies and time together. We have not regretted this decision once, guilt from what others would think is always in the back of my mind, but this was the right choice for us at this time in our life but we are very excited about the potential of the new communities and churches we will experience with our move.

State Of Things To Come in 2017

Blog Schedule. My goal is to blog 4-5 times a week, when I am working for myself fulltime, around August. Some people say blogging is dead but I disagree and also don’t care. For now, I would like to publish just one very helpful, art related blog post a week. Sometimes it may be travel or personal, but one blog post a week. Any other smaller posts or project shares after that is fine.

Moving. We are officially moving…to nowhere. Yet. We are still interviewing and waiting and talking and hoping and dreaming. This is the least stressful move for me and in this current phase I am enjoying and appreciating that right now and will be focused on purging stuff, shipping stuff, learning a new language, finding a new place to live, getting a new address and residency visa and a million other things, later. But for now, we are focused on enjoying Korea. Then we will focus on moving, then we will focus on learning and exploring our new country. This is best summed up by my good friend Hagrid, “What’s coming will come and we will meet it when it does.”.

New Courses. Oh! Im so excited to bring you new courses to Lauren-Likes and Get Messy. Im already working on the companion course to Travel Like an Artist, which is about journaling your travels. I would like to focus on more art + travel courses later in this year. Courses are one of my favorite things to work on and the best way to support my business, so I plan for these to be an important part of my time once I become a full time, online business owner!

Marketing. I don’t plan on releasing a 100 new courses, but I do plan on spending the time marketing the ones I do have. I want to connect with more creative travellers and welcome them into my fold. So this means more intentional sharing and creating new content related to my current courses.

Relaxing, days off, no more self induced pressure. I am committed to taking time off, really off, not just staring at my screen off. I will read, watch tv, do puzzles, go out, stay in, be lazy, have fun. I am letting go of feeling like I owe everyone everything, saying no and creating boundaries with myself. I am the worst at telling myself no…which leads me to my word for the year:

FREEDOM. This year I want to feel free with my time, in my art, in myself. Free to make things, to relax, to be bold. No judgement, pressure or chains. Freedom.

Life in Quarters. I have decided to no longer set yearly goals, I have talked about this before. My life runs based around the school year and one calendar year is really 2 halves of separate years for us. But, as you can see, even with that, this year will be full of very literally different places and events. I am working to set goals, projects and plans based on the quarters instead of yearly. I honestly do not remember any of the goals I set for myself from a year ago, even if I set it at the beginning of the school year. I am currently working through the 90 Day Year program and plan to also work on goals and habits and events this way also. It makes so much more sense, gets me more excited and much less overwhelmed.

Living healthy. As I stated I am doing Whole30 and have cut sugar, carbs, dairy and a slew of other foods out of my diet. I don’t plan to maintain this forever, I love cheese way to much for that, but I do plan to stick with the no soda and as little sugar as possible part. I plan to bulk up our at home meals with more healthy meal options and stop throwing pasta in every meal just because it’s easy but to learn to not exist on carbs and sugar alone. Who knows maybe this will be the year I actually start working out again…#dontholdyourbreath

So that is 2016 in a nutshell and a tiny bit of what 2017 may hold. What about you? What’s your State of The Union?

Get Messy Creative Team Blog Hop

As 2016 is coming to a close, so is the Get Messy 2016 Creative Team. These ladies are incredible and we have been so lucky to have them by our side this past year. Words cannot express our gratitude and joy for them, so instead I will let you see how amazing they are.

The team is doing a blog hop and shouting their love for another via blog world. Be sure to click all the way through and witness their glorious talents. And don’t forget that you have about 24 hours left to join Get Messy at its lowest price ever….

One creative team member who completely surprised me was Karen. I think I officially fell in love with Karen during her Messy Conversation interview. Her accent and sweet charm are irresistible. During the convo she taught me all about gelli printing (to which I was completely clueless) and now I’m in love…

Karen’s work is bright and colorful, but unique with depth. I love how she balances color and black and white imagery so carefully. Surprising, yet consistent. That is the true goal of an artist, right?  Karen has definitely reached that level!

Go be friends with her on her site and instagram! And follow the hop all the way through 🙂

Karen
www.karen-gaunt.com
www.instagram.com/karen.gaunt